The young Bulls team, which actually still featured seven Springboks on Saturday, gave a good account of themselves in the first half against the Stormers. However, they capitulated in the second half, and the home side romped to a 33-9 victory at Newlands.
“Unfortunately, we have to play these youngsters and make sure that they are ready for the matches down the line,” Marais said after the match.
“It’s a long competition and they will get better every week. It’s just unfortunate that they are 20-year-olds. We knew we lost a lot of players last year and we knew we had to start playing the youngsters, otherwise two years from now we would have the same problem.
“It’s not nice, but we have to stick to what we believe in and go with that.”
The Bulls capitulation started off at set-piece time, as the Stormers locks Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit started to put pressure on their lineout. Then their scrum started losing its oomph when they had to replace their starting front row with relatively inexperienced campaigners. These players then had to come up against the likes of JC Janse van Rensburg, Frans Malherbe and Scarra Ntubeni.
There was only going to be one winner...
“You can have a lot of plans, but if can’t win a lineout or a scrum, then you can’t attack and that will shift the momentum to the other team. All the Stormers’ momentum came from this in the second half,” Marais said.
“Juan (de Jongh) and guys like Robert du Preez then got into the game, and then you are on the back foot. That’s why we struggled in the last 40 minutes.”
The Bulls captain Adrian Strauss, who has played in much stronger Bulls teams, says this team will do a lot better if the players play to the best of their ability.
“It’s frustrating, because I really know we have potential in the team. Like we showed in the first half that there is a lot of potential in this team and we can actually achieve a lot,” the Springbok hooker said.
“We made a couple of silly mistakes as well, especially at lineout time, but they contested well and they took some of our balls that were very important.
“It’s still a pressure game. If you can’t apply the pressure, and give them easy exits from their own half, it’s always going to be a difficult day.”
Original source: Bulls have no choice but to back youngsters